Mucho Lunatics

Yup…you’re a little off if you like to do ultras, and completely whacked if you came out to Chris‘ Dos Lunas Scrub run this weekend.  Mostly everyone was a C4P alumni, so they should’ve known what to expect — the newbies…well, even after the bitching and moaning, it sounded like they’ll be back for the real thing next year if (when?) it becomes an official event.

So the idea of the run was to stagger the start to get everyone to the finish in around the same time — hey, getting to Carrow’s for the post-race celebration before the breakfast rush is important, right.  Don (ZombieRunner) Lundell, and Nattu Nataraj started their 100 mile journey at 9pm Friday night, and Sue Johnston, H’ard Cohen, and Bruce Grant began theirs 3 hours later at midnight.  Mark and Brian (no, not those guys silly — the Weineke brothers), Patty Bryant and I chose to do the 100k — we were the wiser idiots, anticipating a C4P-esque type course, so we knew we’d get our money’s worth without signing up for the full monty, and besides, I’m doing enough 100 milers this year anyway.

Saturday morning, I met Bob and Darcy Africa, who will be the other 100K-ers at the Cafe Ojai Emporium for breakfast — they’ll be starting 3 hours after our proposed noon Saturday start.  Mark and Brian, plus Drew (crewing for the Africas) also joined up for our do-it-ourselves pre-race briefing.  Mark is the local, and knew the trails well, so he cleared up any confusion we had regarding the course — I knew only part of it from the C4P Day 2 50 Miler…Cozy Dell, Pratt, Nordhoff, Gridley, Chief.

After breakfast, we met up with Patty, then drove a car over to Cozy Dell to leave our drop bags, then headed to Thacher School, the start/finish area.  We started at 11:40, a little earlier than we were supposed to, but it didn’t really matter.  The first section was a long 4 mile climb from 1460′ to the Sisar Rd junction, a 3300′ elevation gain, that would eventually help us get to the top of the ridge at 4920′.  This is where we encountered a swarm of sand bees (?) — it was a bit scary as we walked through them, but we had to in order to continue where we needed to go.

I was familiar with this section now — if we had gone right (east) at the junction, that would’ve taken us to Topa Topa, but we were heading west towards Chief Peak, passing by where Bill had his aid station at C4P.  Initially, it was a gradual downhill, followed by a slight uphill along the base of Chief, eventually getting us to the Rose Valley junction — elevation 5000′, and our second encounter with bees.  From there, we drop very quickly down to the first aid station manned by Brian Polley — 2.1 miles, losing about 1600′ in the process.  If you do the math, that’s a little over a 14% grade, so I kept thinking about having to climb back out of it after we leave the aid station.

It was around 3pm at this point, and it was pretty hot (I heard it got into the 90’s), which I think was the cause of Mark getting dehydrated.  He wasn’t feeling well, and was having difficulty.  It was still early on, so I was concerned about how he’d manage the rest of the day, which wasn’t going to get any easier.  We lightened his load by taking his pack, and headed towards Howard Creek, where we were going to further assess his condition.  From the top of Rose Valley, it was about a mile and a half to the next turnoff — we’d been going for about 4 hours at that point, and we were only 14 miles in.

We saw Mike Turon at the top of the trail, marking the course — we said hello, as he headed back to Chris at Gridley.  Howard Creek was about 2.8 miles, with a very runnable drop in elevation of about 1100′.  The trail condition was very nice, and the tree-cover brought a bit of relief from being exposed to the sun the last few hours.  Mark was still moving — slowly but surely, as his brother Brian kept him company while Patty and I continued ahead down to the aid station at the trailhead.

We got to Bill’s van, and saw that Pat and Karen were there helping out as well — they came out to do a 50-mile section of the route.  Mark and Brian arrived a few minutes later, then Mark sat down and told us that he was going to skip the next section and meet us over at Cozy Dell, hoping that he’d feel better by then to finish the rest of the course with us.

So the three of us left for the climb back up to the ridge.  We cranked it up a bit here, and made the return trip back pretty fast.  Near the top, we bumped into Bob and Darcy who were on their way down — they had almost made up the 3 hour head start we had.  I predicted they’d catch us by the time we’d get into Cozy Dell at the rate that they were going.

Once we got off the single track, we lost the path that would lead us down onto the fireroad, so we had to bushwack a little.  It would be all downhill from there — dropping about 700′ in just over a mile to the top of Gridley, the intersection of where Chris and Mike setup aid, and where we’d pass through 3 times along the route.

After stocking up, we set off on the 1 mile climb up to the fire tower on Nordhoff Peak, a gain of around 700′, at which point it would be mostly downhill all the way into Cozy Dell, about 7 miles from there.  The sun had started setting then, so we got our lights ready for the long single track section down Pratt and out to the highway.

Along the fireroad north of the Foothill Trail, we saw the 100-milers on their return — Sue, H’ard, Bruce, and Don (Nattu had to call it a day unfortunately).  Then just before we popped out onto the road, Mark met us part way up the trail to greet us — he was obviously feeling much better, and ready to join us for the remainder of the run.  Brian was at this aid station again with his wife Lisa, and so was Karen and Pat — they were all super helpful, tending to our every need.  I ate a couple of Bill’s famous burritos, changed into a long sleeve shirt, as Mark fixed up Patty’s blistered feet.  It got pretty cold standing around, so Brian and I left the aid station first, going slowly so that Mark and Patty could catch us.  Shortly thereafter, Bob and Darcy came through on their way to Cozy Dell, so my earlier prediction was right — I figured it wouldn’t be much longer before they’d pass us.

So once we all joined up, we continued our long climb back all the way to Chris and Mike at the top of Gridley.  Looking back down into the canyon, we could see Bob and Darcy’s lights, and they were gaining ground very quickly.  They caught us right when we got to the ridge, and Mark and I ran with them briefly before they went ahead, just before we got to the tower.

When we reached Chris’ aid station, Darcy and Bob were still there, getting ready to head down to  the bottom of Gridley, where they’d see Bill and Drew for aid.  We were told that we would have to cut the course short and head straight back to the finish from there, but we managed to convince Chris to let us go part way down Gridley.  He agreed that we could go to the trough and turn around, or turn around when we saw Drew, who was heading up from the bottom — whichever came first.  We ended up seeing Drew about 2 miles down, so had to head back up with him.

We found out at that point that H’ard would be stopping at the bottom of Gridley, and that Sue and Bruce went straight back to the finish, but Don was still planning on completing the entire 100 miles.  When we returned to the aid station, Chris mentioned that he’d be pulling Don there unless we accompanied him, so Mark and Drew volunteered to stay with him the rest of the way.  As they waited for Don to arrive, Patty, Brian and I started on our last 12 miles to the finish.

It was a bit breezy on the ridge, but still tolerable with a windbreaker and gloves.  The three of us were moving well — not fast or too slow…just enough to keep moving forward and stay relatively warm.  Around this time, I got really sleepy, and hoped that I would snap out of it.  As we passed Bill’s former C4P aid station on the downhill at the base of Chief’s, Drew caught up with us.  He mentioned that Mark and Don weren’t too far behind, and then I took the opportunity to run with him for a bit, hoping that I would wake up.  The faster pace I had to keep running with Drew worked — I managed to snap out of it, but realized that Brian and Patty weren’t behind us anymore.

When we got to the top of the Horn Cyn trail, only 4 miles from the finish.  I had Drew go first, since I knew I’d be moving pretty slow, but because this section was so technical, we were both reduced to a fast walk anyway.  Much of this trail is very rocky — it reminded me of parts of the San Diego course, and similar to Sam Merrill, but much worse.  About half way down, the sun started to come up, so it made it a little easier to maneuver around obstacles, which not only included the rocks I mentioned, but the many yucca plants that were sitting along the trail as well.  After rolling an ankle, and waking up a camper and his barking dog at The Pines campground, we got to the gate at around 7am, where we were warmly greeted by everyone.  Our total run time was 19:17, and the distance we covered was about 57 miles, with a total elevation gain of 14,210′.

Patty, Brian, Darcy, and Bob finished about 15 minutes or so later, then Mark and Don completed their journey a few minutes after them.  After I took Drew to Gridley to pickup his truck, we all met at Carrow’s for breakfast.

Here’s the post-run results e-mail from Chris:

The Scrub Run of the hopefully-next-year’s-inaugural Dos Lunas 100’s is now history.  Staged on Ojai’s ridge (site of C4P’s 50M), five started the 100M, six others officially started the 100K, and two more started the Party 50M (the 100M’er and Party’ers in this photo).  Only Don Lundell finished the 100M (in 34:15 for the just shy of 25,000 foot elevation gain course), with Sue Johnston and Bruce Grant opting for the “near beer” 90 mile version (and still requiring 28 hours for their 20,000+ feet).  Capitalizing on the full moon weekend, start times were selected based on runners’ estimated finish times and the objective of finishing by 6:00 AM after the 2nd night’s moon.  The “math” had Don finishing his 100M (he started at 9:00 PM Friday night) along with the 100K’ers’ only full finishers, Darcy and Bob Africa (16:15, with a 3:00 PM Saturday start).

H’ards photos here.
My photos are here.
MotionBased stats here.

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